tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN April 28, 2016 3:00pm-5:01pm EDT
wounded a total of seven people. in response to that, some of our senior leaders, these folks who have a questionable background and certainly lack the security experience necessary all got together and decided to standardize a check point panic alarm system. the purpose was to press it when there was an imminent threat so our people could have protection at the quickest possible opportunity. so of the 450 airports where they installed those, they installed those alarmt, that's great. a good security move. the problem is they're covert alarms. if you have a law enforcement officer standing there and you have a situation like you did in new orleans, if that officer hadn't been there to take the purpo perpetrator out, several people would have been hurt or possibly killed that day. how do you install 710 alarm systems on a government contract and forget to put in an audible alarm? we installed an audible alarm in wichita. when you're talking about the
changes put into these airports, the rationale behind some of this stuff absolutely makes no sense from a security standpoint. risk-based security is a title that's slapped on everything. and the motto is from the previous administration there's never been a risk i wasn't willing to accept. it's like dealing with a financial investor. you give a financial investor $100,000 of your money and he or she will do things with it they would never do with their own. that's one example of the logic that goes in and the thought process that goes in. one of my counterparts took a survey over a period of five months with calls that we have with tsa leadership prior to mr. neffenger's arrival. there were 147 topics discussed, not one was security related. they may have talked about playbook or some security aspect but there was always a metric driving it and it was a running joke. this is the priority of that leadership. >> let me jump to another point here. can you walk us through the process that tsa engages when
they are evaluating a potential new hire. >> at which level, sir? >> at any level. a new hire in management level specifically but any other. what's the process that tsa walks through? >> it varies. with officers obviously there's an online process and locally we're not involved in that. we'll do candid assessments and so forth. there's a background check. i don't get a lot of insight of that. posting it on usa jobs. then you have within the ses level and those are done by the executive resource council at tsa headquarters. it varies with different components. >> mr. rhodes, complaints to leadership at tsa going unacknowledged, ignored, et cetera, have you ever heard justification for these complaints not being accepted or reviewed? >> no, sir, there's no logical explanation for that.
>> what explanations have been given? >> precisely, none. >> none at all? >> no contacts, no e-mails, i've got a differing opinion, that's a good idea, nothing. >> so it just happens, allowed to happen? >> i can't answer that. the only thing i can answer, sir, is i have not been contacted. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the gentleman from massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the witnesses for your help on the committee with its work today. in my previous life i was a union steward and a union president and later on a labor lawyer practicing labor law on behalf of unions. i'm just curious, when i was a steward on the work site, when i had employees that were being treated unfairly, i would take it on myself. that would be my job. i would deal with management and make sure that people were being treated fairly. that way, my workers weren't
continually banging heads with management. it was me. i sort of enjoyed that work, but a lot of people don't. would it be helpful at all in your workplace if you had somebody like that that you could go to that would -- i know that afgee is the signatory in the workplace but you don't have full bargaining rights and all the rights that the other federal employees have. would that be helpful? >> sir, i'd like to answer that. i'd like to first answer this by saying my afg president from minnesota is here in attendance in support of this testimony. >> great. >> i think the fact that she is here supporting me talking about mismanagement in my agency is a powerful signal, hopefully, to my agency. i'll start off by saying this. my afg president in minneapolis
and i sat in my office. the management wanted to fire this person because he made a mistake. when i looked at the penalties, it was excessive. i did what's called a designated grievance official. i reversed it, eliminated it. we had a great conversation in my office. i owned the decision. like i said, as long as you have ethical leaders willing to do the right thing and not be coerced from the top, it could work, but it requires ethical leadership. >> i understand that. >> totally off topic, i grew up in brain tree, massachusetts. >> that's my district. >> yes, sir. >> you're still voting there, you know. >> i wish i could. >> we know how you'll vote anyway so we'll do that on your behalf. >> yes, sir. >> i don't want to spend a lot of time on that. just what do you think, mr. livingston? >> sir, the most important thing about tsa is the people. the people and the mission.
if you don't make the two match, tsa's never going to get better. we've got a great leader but it's getting lost in translation. >> look, i'm very happy to hear about mr. neffenger and he's been before this committee. he's a frequent flier here and he is trying to put in some of the changes that we need. i want to jump to something else though. we did talk with mr. neffenger about the -- look, check points are very important. if you google check point bombings or check point attacks, you look at what happened in brussels. you look at what happened at the airport check point, at the rail check point, suicide bombers detonating at both of those. look at paris outside the stadium where president hollande was watching the game between france and germany. those suicide bombers hit at the check point. so what goes on at that check point is incredibly important. we got to have a whole different strategy for how we handle that
because that's been the focal point of all these attacks. and i'm not calling out my tsa screeners, but as the ranking democrat on the national security subcommittee, i go to those classified briefings and i saw what the inspector general did, sending people through with ace bandages with knives in there or a gun strapped to their leg. i got to tell you, like 90% of those folks got through. 90% of them. these are major airports in our country. so i'm not looking to place the blame on any particular aspect of this, but that is unacceptable. so we got to work together. mr. neffenger has said he's going to go back and redesign this whole thing so that we'll do a better job at that. but i cannot not criticize when we have a 90% failure rate. so that's got to change.
we got a lot of turnover and i think some of that is related to the fact that we don't -- the way we treat our employees. this ought to be a profession. these folks are doing incredibly important work. people yell about protecting our borders. well, that screener at that airport, that is your border. we got to make sure that those employees have the protection and the rights to be able to do their job. one of the things i'm concerned about and this is what i want to ask you about. my concern from a national security standpoint is whether or not those passengers are screened efficiently. the airline priority is moving people through that check point and getting -- that's why you got these people being timed, your screeners being timed on how many people -- what's the wait time on getting these people through. anybody who travels and we all travel regularly, you got to get there a little earlier, you got
to adjust your schedule in case you do have an alert or something like that at the airport and we want our screeners to do a damn good job. so the priority has to be safety and security and what's going on at that check point. it can't be the airline needs to move product, needs to move people through that. so what do you think is winning out today between those two priorities? effective screening or moving passengers, that's the priority that's prevailing today in our nation's airports? >> sir, i don't speak for the agency but i can tell you that we're not going to compromise security for speed. i can tell you that we're going to balance it. tsa is not going to compromise our mission to expedite passengers through at the expense of our mission. what we're going to do is get better. we're going to keep pushing precheck, pushing a better process, and we're going to get more people and we're going to
get better at this. mr. neffenger has made it a priority. there's a day that doesn't go by at tsa where this isn't the priority. i can tell you that every single senior leader that he talks to at tsa, this is the topic of discussion. >> okay. >> i don't want you to think that it's not a priority. >> okay. but i got to go back to the original point i made earlier, he needs the right team to do it. >> sure. >> sir, if i can, i work in the field operation and i'm responsible for everything in the state of kansas. i was at maine last year, iowa ten years before that, indiana before that. there's a stereotype with the airlines that all they care about is customer service. that's not accurate. there are a lot of airlines and airports who partner with tsa every day. we are the only entity with the dhs that deals with three constants, departures, arrivals, connections. when we're knnot doing our zob, they have a right to be upset.
the problem right now is that the previous leadership team oversaw tsa put in a plan a without a plan b. that's reflective upon that leadership. i don't think there's a day that mr. neffenger doesn't come to work and he didn't get full disclosure when he took the appointment and god bless him for being here but he's out trying to cheer lead this. but that's why we're at where we're at. it's the lack of leadership that got us there. we did not have a plan b when we put in plan a. >> mr. chairman, thank you. >> let me turn to the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. rhodes, i believe you used to work alongside former acting head ken kass prizen. he has stated before that thousands of airport workers who are only subject to random checks are the single greatest threat to aviation security.
now tsa employees are regularly rooted out rummaging through baggage or inappropriate behavior. my concern is that there are only three u.s. airports that currently require employee checks. in atlanta they had a major gun running operation busted in 2014. we have reports that there's some 73 employees at about 40 airports who potentially have terrorist ties. at some point is the tsa causing more insecurity than it solves? frankly, as a very frequent traveler, it gives me some concern that the screening process may identify potential terrorists, yet they continue to work there. >> let me try to answer that
question, sir. i believe if the tsa was mandated to screen every employee at airports, it would require much more resources. i am unqualified to professionally comment on how much those resources would require, but what i can say is that the minneapolis/st. paul airport, there are i believe over 10,000 people that work at that airport. obviously some of them come during various times of the day and various shifts, and certainly the insider threat has received a new focus based upon world events. but i will say we are resourced in fte. i'm unqualified to comment whether we should also receive resources in that but i can say that's not our specific focus. >> let me put it this way. obviously we're talking about basic screening, right? >> yes, sir. >> every staff member that works here goes through screening to
get into an office here, and in terms of being able to do their job, if you know you have to go through a screening process, you show up early. is that unreasonable? >> no, that's not unreasonable, sir. i think what our administrator has done rightfully so is reducing some of those access points at those airports. if you're aside of side badges and various access points, those are available to some employees. however, again, i don't have any data to suggest -- or talk intelligently with respect to how many access points. at minneapolis the number of access points have been reduced and we continue to reduce them. >> think about it for a moment, if we know there's the tsa thinks there's 73 potential employees potentially with terrorist ties, that's who they've identified that there might be potentially others and that we're not screening them, it doesn't give you a high
comfort level. >> i don't disagree with you, sir. >> mr. brainard, i'd like to follow up on mr. duncan's questions regarding wasteful spending. you described expenditures such as $300,000 on an absentee director. a $12 million budget that's three times its original amount. i could amount ask for a hearing on project overruns. $336,000 on an app that you, mr. brainard, described being as effective as a ouija board. i'm sure the more we continue to hear from other employees at different airports we're going to continue to hear similar stories to that effect. you might be aware that last april the tsa aviation security advisory committee released a report concluding that they could not afford full employee screening and it would not
reduce insider threats. do you believe this illustrates where the priorities lie when you look at this other spending? >> thank you for the question, sir. when it comes to spending, another example to give you where they could have put the money into making -- toward making something like that happen. when they did the directed reassignments i went from iowa to maine. i had received near perfect evaluation. there was no vacancy in maine. the federal security director m maine received a perfect evaluation. he was sent to wisconsin. between the two of us you're talking in excess of a quarter million dollars that was earmarked for those directors. all of these federal security directors were performing in excessive standards. no federal security director had more experience, the main operation was smaller and less complex than i had. the fsd in arkansas, north
carolina, los angeles. his spouse from los angeles to washington d.c. there was no reason for these moves. i don't know what the price tag is on all those moves, but we could have certainly used that funding more appropriately. >> well, and that just brings me back to the point i was trying to make with mr. rhodes. you're spending all this money and we know that not every tsa employee is up to standard. potentially 73 may have terrorist ties. but we're spending all this money and we're not investing in the security apparatus that we need to make sure absolutely positively certain that we have the very best people on the job and that we're protecting our airports. i saw you shaking your head, dr. livingston. i presume you may have a comment. >> sir, full disclosure, just like my partner to the left, we're from the same area as well.
>> i'm from hackleburg, alabama and i live in hoover. by the way, today is the five-year anniversary of the tornados that went through alabama with such devastating impact. >> wow, okay. >> thank the gentleman. did you want to finish your response? >> yes, sir. to answer your question, there needs to be greater oversights. i was part of the office that identified that original 73. we didn't have access to the list. i was actually part of the team that decided we needed to notify ntct to say we didn't have access to that database. i've been part of the team that identified we need to do a better job at screening. so there is an opportunity to do better screening and for tsa to do better monetary discipline. i identified the $10 million excess spent on a watch floor. so yes, sir, there is an opportunity to be more prudent with the taxpayers' money. any time you see an example of
waste, fraud, and abuse, we've got to do better. >> i thank the chairman. i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. the gentleman from missouri, mr. clay. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. livingston, tsa cut its screening staff over the past couple of years, anticipating that its precheck program would help speed up the overall process, but not enough passengers have enrolled. news reports have indicated that morale inside the tsa is extremely low which is likely a factor contributing to staffing shortages affecting tsa security. reports indicate that travelers are arriving at security check points where not all available ques are open for general screening. i can attest to that going through st. louis's airport.
i'm part of the precheck program but more often than not it's closed. i'm told by officers that they don't have enough people to staff it. is there a long-term strategy to fix the morale issue and the employment issue? >> yes, sir. there is a plan. i know that the administrator has touted the fact that we're putting 200 extra tso officers through the academy each week. both of my counterparts can speak to the screening process. from the precheck standpoint i know that we're putting more advertising out to get more people enrolled. we're trying to get more people into the program, trying to show them the advantages of that. precheck is a high priority for the agency and we're trying to get more people into that. once we do that, the more people that are in precheck, we can
sustain that much better. i'll let my counterpart -- >> here's the point. the excuse i get at st. louis airport is we don't have enough officers to staff it. so is that just something they're telling me? >> sir, there is a staffing issue. i know the administrator has talked to omb about staffing issues. i know that there is a long-term strategy to address that issue. it's a resource issue of both money and people. it's going to take some time but we have addressed that. there's a short, mid-term and a long term plan. he's working with the senior staff to do that and i think both of these gentlemen who are working in the airport can tell you what they're doing daily. >> some have suggested shifting officers from tsa's controversial behavior detection program to regular screeners. so let me go on.
mr. rhodes, i have a question for you. kind of concerned about an article i'm reading about a mohammed fa ra from minneapolis. are you familiar with him? >> yesse. >> here's what he says. there's an ongoing program of racial profiling and harassment by tsa agents at the twin cities airport. he said recently he was asked by an agent who said, quote, hey, were you going to make a run for it if i hadn't given your ticket back? and the response he's gotten from tsa and the congressman from that area, mr. ellison, is that they take these complaints seriously. i think it's a little bit more
than that. he's also been given a tsa control number from the agency's redress program, and he said it doesn't help either. so what can we do for mr. fa ra that would change the conditions that he experiences every time he goes through your airport? >> thank you for that question, sir. you may not realize but there's a "new york times" article that was published this morning about profiling. you may know that in my opening statement i was asked to profile somali imams and community members visiting me in my office. those are facts. it's contained in my mid year evaluation that i provided to this committee. mohammed fa ra is the director of kajug. i was not at the check point during that time so i can't intelligently speak to what was
or was not said. what i can say is whether you're black, white, male, female, somali, jew, christian, hindu, we should treat you the same. it doesn't matter if you're flying on whatever airlines, you should be treated with respect. again, i'm not either taking mohammed's position or refuting his position in so much as i'd say that when we get to know people of the somali community, they're hard working. they want to be american citizens. my mother was an immigrant, was a japanese national, became a u.s. citizen and took her oath of citizenship in boston, massachusetts. >> how are you going to change mr. fara's experience when he encounters your agent, your officers? >> the best way i can answer
that, sir, is like any investigation or inquiry, you get the facts. i have met mohammed fara many times. we can at times have what's called a passenger support specialist, have someone assigned to him in the future when he flies out to make sure things like that don't happen. we're happy to do that. >> have you disciplined the officers that he has encountered? >> i don't know the names of the officers. i'm unqualified to speak to that. i don't have that information with me. >> your camera footage can identify them. you have identified these officers? >> again, sir, i don't have those facts. what i am suggesting is in my own experience with respect to the tsa, they've been less than forthcoming in addressing my complaints. so i would say that my complaints mirror mohammed fara's. >> this is totally unacceptable.
>> has somebody from tsa gotten back to you with these questions? >> no. i'm reading this today and realizing this guy is being mistreated. >> would you like somebody from -- >> sure, i certainly would. >> i'll take that and get back to you with somebody from tsa. >> let me recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. carter, now. >> thank you mr. chairman. thanks to all of you for being here. we appreciate your presence here today. i want to start with you, mr. brainard, if that's okay. as i understand it, at one point you were assigned in iowa, is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> while you were there in iowa you received the highest performance rating that you could possibly receive while you were working there? >> yes, sir. >> and also i believe that you received a federal security director of the year award. >> yes, sir. i received the federal security director of the year, the secretary team award and one of
the two top awards you can receive in our agency and a number of other types of awards from local stakeholders, partner centers, things like that. >> then as i understand it, they tried to reassign you to maine? >> yes, sir. >> they tried to reassign you to maine? >> they did reassign me to maine. >> after you received all these accolades and awards? >> yes, sir. >> do you believe that that was their way of trying to get rid of you to reassign your position? >> i can't speak to their motives. it would be unfair for me to speak to their motives. i'll speak to facts. >> was it a bigger airport? were you needed there? >> no, sir. smaller airport, less complex. >> why would an agency take one of their best employees -- they wouldn't have given you these awarsds if they didn't think you were doing a good job and put you at a smaller airport where you would not be as useful? >> according to them the reason
was because my skill set was needed for that particular operation. unfortunately, there was another federal security director who had the same length of service in that i did and who had been a high performer. that's the reason they provided each of the federal security directors who happened to be the longest serving federal security directors in tsa. there was a caveat, there were at least three federal security directors i was aware of that they did not move but they had to sign a agreement to stay at their duty station one year and they would retire and forfeited their right to take any litigation against the agency. three people were provided an exemption with the caveat that they had to require. there was an announcement which reminded everybody that putting pressure or coercion on employees to retire is prohibited. >> let me ask you -- you did relocate to maine? >> yes, sir. >> when you relocated to maine, was that a financial hardship on you? >> oh, yes.
>> and your familiy? >> yes, sir. >> was there a vacancy near where you were before? >> no. there was no vacancy. there was in maine a sitting federal security director, no vacancy. if there had been a vacancy there were certainly other people there at the operation qualified to fill these positions. it's important to note that when you're moving this particular skill set around the country, we have some 750 assistant federal security directors and deputy federal security directors. the men and women that fill those positions, most of them are more than qualified. >> how much would it have cost tsa to relocate you to portland, maine? >> they earmarked on the pcs in excess of $100,000. >> i've got in my notes $113,000. >> that would be accurate. >> is this happening elsewhere?
mr. rhodes? >> it happens everywhere. as you may read in my written testimony, i'd like to call the example of mark haut. this was a gentleman who was moved from charlotte to los angeles. when he moved from virginia over to charlotte, the agency paid him $197,000 for one move. during that time, two of his sisters and his brothers died. his wife, after he got a directed reassignment to los angeles was given a directed reassignment in los angeles back to washington d.c. on the opposite end of the united states. that's the punitive nature of directed reassignments and the high cost. >> let me make sure i'm understanding this now. so this is taxpayers' money that we're paying this? >> yes, sir. >> we could be talking about millions of dollars in taxpayers' money. >> you are talking about millions of dollars. >> but it also causes the
employee financial hardship. >> when they moved me to iowa, my counterpart in jacksonville couldn't come. he was off on medical. you know what they did? they tdyed an isn't director in iowa, put him in a hotel for nine months, nine months. they put her in that hotel for nine months, and they didn't fill that position until january of 2015. >> sir, ed goodwin from florida, he was given a directed reassignment. he was supposed to replace jay brainard in des moines. his parents were 89 and i believe 95 years old. one of them had alzheimer's. his daughter was a high school senior in her last year of high school, and he was under water in his mortgage. they gave him a directed reassignment. what he did, he quit. he resigned. and that's -- the "new york times" wrote about him as well. that's what our agency does to
people they want to run out. >> we've got a number of moving parts here. we've got what i consider to be wasting taxpayers' money and i'm very concerned about -- we've got another concern about whether this is intentional and in a way to get rid of employees or discipline employees. mr. chairman, i just have to tell you, i'm pretty disgusted right now and i'm looking forward to us having another hearing. from what i understand, we're going to be doing that. certainly we want to get to the bottom of this. mr. chairman, i'll yield back. thank y'all again for being here. >> thank the gentleman. i'll recognize the delegate from the district, ms. norton. >> thank you, mr. chairman. could i say to all three of you that we very much appreciate your service and appreciate your courage in coming forward. i share the equal employment opportunity commission and i'm very interested in this kind of
alleged retaliation. it's interesting that when congress passed title seven itself it passed a retaliation provision in the statute. it's very, very important, and of course if there isn't any sense that one cannot be punished for coming forward, there's a very, very heavy presumption against coming forward. i was very interested in hearing that. i don't remember, even though i had to essentially reform the entire agency, creating new parts of the agency, bringing together people -- i don't remember anything called directed reassignments. in my view, i can think of no
more powerful instrument in the hands of an agency. you testified, i think it was you, mr. rhodes, that somebody just quit. >> yes. >> if that was the intention, it certainly worked. mr. livingston, let me just start with you because you reported that you indeed did suffer discrimination at tsa. is that right? >> yes, ma'am. >> what was the basis for the discrimination? >> it started with the disability harassment. then it was based on my veteran status, they were making fun of me for my service connected to disabilities. then it started as the management directed official in a case for eeo. i found against the senior ses for preselection. then it started with the sexual harassment, another ses asked me to lie and i refused. then there was another case
where i reported serious security violations and it started -- that same official testified against me in my erc or my probationary period. >> this seems like one thing leads to another. >> if you tell the truth in tsa, you will be targeted. i call it the lord of the flies. you either attack or be attacked. >> ma'am, if i may? >> yes. >> i was accused of going native. >> going what? >> going native. >> you'll have to explain that, sir. >> ma'am, it's a slang term where i was visiting mosques in my official role working with the somali community where jeh johnson, my secretary, tells me he wants me to conduct community outreach. my supervisor accused me of going native. i take that to mean i'm somehow converting to islam, i'm acting as a native. it's a disgusting, bigoted term.
and when i think of that within the context of my written mid-year evaluation that tells me to profile somali people, i'm disgusted by it. going native? i'm truly disgusted by it. >> now, this committee and i think the house as unanimously passed a bill called the federal employee anti-discrimination act to help hold managers accountable. the kinds of retaliation that would happen below your level perhaps is apparently better taken care of. as original co-sponsor, it looks like most of the committee was. this bill by the way is pending
in the senate. it hasn't passed the senate yet. but it would require the agencies to keep track of every single complaint. somehow with the string of issues, mr. livingston, for example, you indicated there would have to be a tracking of the complaint through inception and resolution. do you think this would help bring some additional level, mr. livingston, any of the three of you, i'll start with you, mr. livingston, to the process? >> yes, ma'am, i think any time there's checks and balances, you track that, i think that's always a good thing. >> see if something funny is going on here with the string of -- you see the string of -- >> yes, ma'am. i think tsa has a management protocol problem. i think if you can track and show the process, and i know the
committee has looked at it for years. if you can show that because all these leaders are not bad. some of them are very good, exceptional. i can name several. but all it takes is somebody to circumvent that process and you've ruined the good work of many. if you track that and quantify it and you can show the progress of the well intended, i think everybody benefits. if you have toxic, cancerous leaders that are ejected into this process, it undoes all the good work that the well intended leaders do. that's why mr. neffenger needs a team around him that can do that. this process you're talking about, this tracking, this mechanism, the numbers and the data doesn't lie. it's forever. once you put it into the record and track it, it's consistent over time and that's what we need, consistent, persistent, quality leadership. factual data will make us
better. >> mr. livingston, they gave me something of what you said to staff indicating that these nondisclosure agreements stand in the way. i noticed -- and of course i'd like to know whether you think our bill that says that you can't restrict the employee from disclosing waste, fraud or abuse to the congress, special council or the inspector general, whether that reaches far enough. >> i think we overuse the nondisclosure agreements in my agency. i think every legal case we have ends in one, and i think that's an abuse of the power that we have. i did write a statement to that. i will look for it very quickly and read it to you. every case from a misconduct to an eeok ends in nda, that hides the potential to make us better. at worst, it shows our problems.
at the at least it shows a coverup. every case can't be nda. we should show the public what we're doing and if we're hiding it, we're hiding something. >> i thank the gentleman and we'll recognize the gentleman from south carolina. >> i thank the chairman and i wish that mr. lynch had stuck around for just a few minutes because he said something and i thought mr. brainard handled it very well. i'll go back and say that mr. lynch mentioned that the airlines were just interested in moving product. that's unfair. i know some folks who work there and their families fly, their friends fly and they care just as much about safety as we do. it's probably just as inaccurate to say that the airlines only care about moving product as it would be to say that all you care about is safety and that you don't care about the folks who have to stand in line and how long they do. in fact, i look forward to a longer conversation with mr. lynch as to who cares less
about people, corporation or bureaucracy. my guess is they're probably tied. i want to get back to the purpose of the hearing which is to talk about the way the employees are treated. is anybody familiar with the circumstance that happened in charleston, south carolina with a miss kimberly barnett? >> no, sir. >> just an example of exactly what we've talked about here today. she complained about her supervisor falsifying records in her area. her area dealt with the canine use, the dog, and she went to the osc which is where she was supposed to go and made the complaint in june of 2014. by november of 2014 she was fired. she was fired over a completely different allegation regarding using inappropriate language when her car got struck by a bus. i wanted to mention her because this is -- it's more than just you gentlemen. we've heard your stories but i think everybody from every one of our district can bring some
of these stories in. let's talk about how we can fix this if it can be fix. mr. livingston, your language was accountable leadership which i agree with. can you name for me a federal agency that has that? >> i worked for the department of the navy. i thought they had it. >> maybe it's a function of what we do in this committee but since we see the baed stuff all the time we can tell you that again and again and again we can bring in examples of leadership breaking down, leadership not being accountable, of folks not being able to fire people. you can have a hearing every single day on how poorly the v.a. is run for the very same reasons. you mentioned one of the challenges that the agency faces is personnel and then i think you said that it was staffing and that it was money. but i feel it's incumbent on me that we haven't cut out your budgets. so when you tell me that every day this summer is going to be
like the day after thanksgiving is, why is that? it can't just be money. in fact, it can't be money because we haven't changed the money that much. >> we are in a perpetual human resource model. we don't have a sustainable model where we recruit, promote and sustain the best work force. if you don't sustain top quality people you're not going to get the best work force. if we're always recruiting because we're always losing, you're not going to get the best people. if you don't take care of the people that you hired, they're not going to stay. if you don't take care of the people that you hired and get them into a career development leadership program and take your best people and groom them for bigger, better positions, if you don't send them to the top level schools and invest in them, if you don't make people feel important and like you care about them, they're not going to stay no matter where they are. >> i tend to agree with that wholeheartedly. in fact, anybody here who has
ever had to hire or fire people or run an organization public or private probably agrees with that statement. >> it's not money, sir. it's concern, care and leadership. if people think you care about them, they'll take a bullet for you. >> i absolutely agree. which leads me to my real question here. why are we doing this? you've just described the same challenge any private entity has in running a private operation. the stories that you guys have told about whistleblowers getting fired, about not being able to deal with mal performing employees, unaccountable leadership, we hear that every single day from every single agency that we bring in. so my question is, why are we doing this? why wouldn't it be better to let private services serve this function? why are we doing this? can you defend the agency as to why the federal government needs to be doing this? if y'all were contractors,
there's always the threat of we just fire them, we didn't renew the contract. we don't have that with the tsa. so why are we doing this as a federal government as opposed to letting the private sector serve this need, mr. rhodes? >> i'd like to take a stab at that. i think one of the essential elements of a government is to protect its people. it's why you have a standing army. i grew up as an army ranger, and a ranger lives and breathes, a leader is responsible for his or her unit. he or she is responsible for everything that unit does or fails to do. when there are failures, there must be consequences to those failures. we don't have consequences to our failures in tsa. if this would have happened in the military, entire people in the chain of command would have been relieved. >> and if a private sector company came to us with a 90% failure rate we would fire them and replace them with somebody else. >> absolutely, yes, sir. whether it's private, whether
we're title five, whether we stay under atsa in my view is irrelevant. it requires the most essential ingredient in a private company and i worked for kraft foods in marketing and that's leadership. i know it's the intangibles but that's why we're all here. there's failures in leadership, failures in accountability, failures of performance but there's been nothing done. >> that frustration is embodied and experienced in this committee every single day. >> yes, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentleman. mr. grassman, you're recognized. >> we'll start with mr. livingston. on the sheet they call you dr. livingston. >> yes, sir. >> are you aware of examples of on investigation that you believe was used specifically to
remove anybody from an agency? specific examples? >> i know that the morale survey that was used against me was tainted. i know that the oi investigation that was used against an fsd in miami was used as an instrument to thwart a complaint. i know those are two examples. >> what did you do that you get yourself in trouble that they go after you? >> any time you go against the grain or report misconduct or tell on certain favorite people, if you do anything that goes against the favored people, if you report misconduct, if you report sexual harassment, if you report security violations, if you do anything against the top tier or anything of that nature, it just seems to go against the grain. you identify yourself as a nonplayer. if you don't shut up, you don't move up. >> in other words, the mentality is not to do the best job that they can at what tsa should be doing, the idea is to establish
a kind of respect for the people at the top? >> yes, sir. i come from a dod background where everything is a learning opportunity. we always do a hot wash after an exercise or incident or crises. we always learn from that mistake. everything is integrity based. if you don't say something you're considered a weak leader. i think the opposite at tsa. if you say something you're considered an outsider. when i reported sexual harassment, i had someone say, hey, if she files a complaint, it's our word against hers. i said, no, i'm not going to lie. he said if you don't, we can't work with you and if you're going to be a boy scout, you'll be on my blank list. >> because you saw something happen and were going to report it? >> absolutely. and i did. >> horrible mentality. we'll give mr. brainard and mr. rhodes a question.
could one of you give a background kind of on how integrity tests are conducted at the airports. >> i can give you some insight. integrity testing in tsa went into high gear shortly after a media story about ipads had taken place. our tsa office of inspection will come out and run test items through, cash cards, money, dvds, clones and things like that. so the testing items come out, conduct the integrity tests. they're come through with these items and the federal security director will get a call and we will be notified of the outcome. they'll say we came through with x, y, z items. can you recover them for us. i will give you an example which i think that you certainly will appreciate. one of the items that they're notorious for planting in an airport are pens. they'll though a pen on the floor, let's say in cue, and tsa
picks it up and doesn't turn it in. they'll fly back out a couple of investigators and they'll literally interrogate them and push for a resignation or and i know this because they have done it in my airports. i know that because they have joked about the fact it's the most successful test they have. there was a tso at an airport in the midwest, he picked up the pen and threw it in the garbage. he didn't put any intrinsic value on the pen. it was a $200 pen. i happen to be one of the worst offenders of picking up pens that people are using, but the irony in all this when talking about testing is that you hold the people in the field to the highest standard. the people at headquarters to the lowest standard. we have people who are picking up pens, pens and they're sending out the criminal investigators for noncriminal matters. oh, by the way it's common place
for them to come out and threaten people with criminal prosecution. as a matter of fact, they'll take it to the local prosecutor to say they're spending 50% of their time on criminal investigation so they can check that box. and they take and hold the field to a much different standard of accountability. they're doing people for pens while you have people at our headquarters that are abusing their staff members. >> so in other words, just kind of for kicks they put up stupid -- put a stupid plastic pen on -- >> it's a metal pen. i can go to cvs and get something that looks like it. i can't tell the difference between that and a dollar pen. i have never seen a passenger go and turn a pen into lost and found at the airport. i'm sure it happened at some point, but that's not the most ridiculous use of the taxpayer money, i don't know what is. >> do you think when they do these tests, do you think they ever target an individual employee or individual airports
or is -- >> no, i believe that the test -- i have never seen any indication that test are conducted for any particular reason. >> just kind of a general waste of time. >> i think that that portion of the test -- i think that the integrity testing is absolutely essential. one of the things -- i know you know this. the only people that hate to see thefts in the workplace more than the american public are our own employees. we don't want them working for us any more than the public does. >> okay. thanks for the extra time. >> thank you. let me yield to ms. norton -- or let me yield to mr. cummings. then ms. norton. >> first of all, i'm going to have to go to another meeting. i want to thank you for being here. you have provided some very significant testimony. i think we need -- you know, as i said earlier, i think we need to see the entire picture. but southwesternly cannot -- we
certainly cannot have a situation where whistle-blowers even worry about retaliation, let alone be the victims of it. i think you'll get that concern from both sides of the aisle. and so again i want to thank you all and we have -- and we've got to find a way to cut out that layer that you're talking about. those people who seem to want to -- the things to go on the way they had been going on and the way they had been going on is not healthy. and it takes away from the morale. of the agency. and it takes away from its effectiveness and efficiency. and this whole idea -- i know ms. norton is going to explore this, but this whole idea of people being sent from one part of the country to another and if
that's about retaliation, i'm going to tell you something. to me, that's criminal. >> i agree. >> really. because families are so important and the individual who those families who have to go through that hell, you know, your wife is on the one end, and husband on the other, you know, life is short. but anyway, i'll yield to ms. norton. thank you. >> yes, sir. >> thank the ranking member for those comments. i want to make sure i understand the difference between the legitimate use of a tool for management and its abuse. and i ask you before about the directed reassignments. i can see how it opens itself hugely for abuse and noted that apparently -- it's interesting. we passed the bill, but it looks like internally the agency has begun to take some action because it became apparently so open.
and such a problem within agencies. i want to ask particularly -- i asked about the directed reassignments. here's a legitimate tool. i want to know if it's been misused because i received this tool all across the government. and this is the capacity of the agency to ask the employee to move every four years. now, we see that -- i mean, the state department. we see it in the services of the -- armed services of the united states. i'm sure i see it because i see very often a different person from the national parks service. but i note that a former -- i think this is a former administrator of tsa suspended the tour of duty initiative where the fssd would be moved every four years. why would he do that? >> so if i can take that --
you're speaking of mr. car rowway. he was the acting administrator for a minute. he saw not only on the detrimental effect on the workforce, but it happened to him himself. mel suspended that practice. when mr. nevinger came in he reaffirmed to hold what mr. caraway had done. i'm not sure if they tried to do it since mr. caraway put a freeze on it because sometimes there are things that go on, you don't find out until after the bell is rung. but mr. caraway freeze that process. it is crystal clear, it's blatant, obvious. >> so it was a problem in that agency? i indicated that tsa is not unusual in having this tour of
duty notion. >> it actually is. last year, when i hired in as a federal security director right after 9/11 i did not sign the mobility agreement. >> what kind of agreement? >> mobility agreement. >> mobility agreement. >> you don't have to sign it? >> do not. the ses signs the mobility agreement. the senior leadership development program if you want to be a candidate you sign a mobility agreement. but there the no tour of duty on that. what they did is they established a mobility process with the federal security directors and then just started to move them around. they didn't have a business reason to do it. regardless of what was put in there. that certainly -- we're able to articulate that. >> mr. rhoades? >> ma'am, mr. brainard did talk of how mel caraway suspended the tour of duty initiative. thanned in november of 2014. i received my directive
reassignment in 2015. >> it's different than the tour of duty? >> it's a redirected reassignment. on the night of february 19, 2015, my former federal security director called mel caraway on his cell phone. i was in his house, i heard every word that mel caraway said. rhoades shouldn't have gotten that reassignment. i suspended that. so it goes back to the point that i want to reinforce here. we can have all of the policies we want written down. but if we're going to ignore them or work around them or lie about them, then it's ineffective. >> so you can call it a -- you can call it a tour of duty reassignment, call it a directed reassignment. i'm pleased that my friends and colleagues on the other side have the same view about the kind of minimal protections even at your level that civil serv t
servants have. i do note that though we -- i'm so pleased we passed the -- a bill ourselves, just waiting for the senate. you know, it didn't take a bill to do something about this. i noted that on march 24th of this year, the president -- apparently the present administrator a detailed explanation of why this employee must be reassigned involuntarily versus any other options. any other options is important. for this employee and/or the new position. does that help this situation? >> i think you know this is a question of using policy in such a way that you can push an agenda that's not healthy for the organization. there would be legitimate reasons why you might do a directed reassignment. you might have somebody who is not performing well.
you may have hired the wrong person for the system. abusive to workforce. you may not be able to terminate somebody, they may not have reached that level. but you are prepared to sit down and have an options meeting and say, look, need to talk about the road ahead and you being at this location is not going to bork. there are circumstances where you would do a directed reassignment. i think there's some legitimacy to that. this goes back to do you have a policy in place that governs this and if there is, are people manipulating the policy? i'll tell you a comment i heard and i'll say it in this hearing because there are about 300 witnesses to it on the conference call. to take action, and let them file a lawsuit. i have 300 attorneys and i'll tie them up forever in court. that's the mentality that the people have. they feel they're bank rolled by the federal government to make these decisions. they don't care if you're going to file an eeo. they don't care if you contact the oig. it's difficult to get them to
accept the complaint. there needs to be legitimacy with this. that's why these types of moves are absent. >> in my case, when they ended my probationary, the argument was made they had no proof. they said, don't worry about it. let them file a complaint. we'll outlast them. >> mr. chairman, i very much appreciate your indulgence because certainly as i said our committee moved unanimously and the house moved unanimously on this. of course the nuances are quite different. this is where the agency itself with this detailed explanation, if you really hold people accountable, you know, let's put it in writing. of why the employee must be reassigned. i like the part -- well, the options are. instead of uprooting are, let's see what the options are. let's say, mr. brainard, i appreciated your explanation, because you seem to understand there are some reasons for these policies and that what we're here discussing are not the reasons that are used across the
government. but the abuse of these parody -- of these policies in tsa in particular. thank you very much. thank you for your testimony. >> thank the gentle lady. i want to conclude and thank all the members for that are participation. i'm grateful for you coming forward. as i said earlier i think you confirmed the worst suspicions of what we heard was going on and it takes brave people to come forward. especially from an agency that's renowned for retaliation. is renowned for gagging the employees and for those who stepped forward and reported some of the problems are paying some pretty high penalties. it's abusive to you, it's abusive to the system. i -- i was one of the people who created tsa way back after 9/11
as the chair of aviation subcommittee. the president wanted it on his desk by thanksgiving and we did that. we tried to structure something that would replace what we had. first of all, i think there should be a federal responsibility and all of you agree to that. we changed from having the airlines and the private sector just do -- well, there weren't federal guidelines in place and they failed to put them in place. so i think that's important. i've never said do away with it. i said change the rule. the most shocking testimony or thing i heard today was there's the abuses and what they have done to you all is uncalled for. horrible. but one of you -- was it mr. livingston talked about the intel and analysis capability?
see, that really scares me. that most -- the most important responsibility of that agency is to connect the dots. the intel and the analysis is all that's going to save us. in my opinion. i will probably call -- i'm going to ask the administrator to take action to revamp that activity. that is the most important government responsibility. the intelligence gathering, the information, all of the stuff we need to keep people from doing damage to us. when you come and testify to me you're familiar with it, that that's one of our weak spots, is that correct, mr. livingston? >> yes. >> that's absolutely scary. i helped put this system together. i have tried to help tsa when it failed. i mean, we did everything from washington. that was a disaster. we have tried to -- we have tried to localize some of the
hiring and other activities. the problem is it's so big they can't think out of the box and you have people who you identified today in control. you're going to have the administrator. but you've got other people in control who are revengeful. who have taken actions that are just unacceptable. i can see replacing -- if that's a vacancy and you have to move somebody to fill that vacancy. we have to secure that important fsd position so be it. and if there's compensation needed to move that person. what you've described is an abuse of authority today and then the cost is -- you said 197,000 on one of them.
just unbelievable. so the intel bothers me. i'll be writing nevinger, he's coming in. i don't care who you put there private screeners, public screeners, whatever it is. things will get through, okay? the system is human beings, but when you fail -- well, if we spent some of that money in looking at people who pose a risk whether they -- even screening people who are working behind the scenes. we had a hearing on that. there are hundreds of people, they don't -- they don't have a passport number. they don't have social security numbers for folks. not all tsa folks but even with tsa they haven't screened some of those people. the miami and orlando and there's one more airport where they're screening the workers. that's a waste of money. that's not the way you do it. they check them. and they can go through as you
know and once they're into the secure -- they have hammer, they have knife, they have all kinds of things that are not allowed and they have chemicals and everything else. plus they have access to the aircraft which could -- they could do a lot of damage to. so we waste money. that's congressionally imposed, some of that, where it could be better spent. would you agree with that? >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> absolutely. >> let me just say one thing too. i'm glad that some of the union folks came. i'm a republican when i wrote the bill i made certain that the tsa and tsos had the ability to belong to a union. i strongly believe in that right of every american worker. i don't think anyone should be forced to join a union on the other hand. but we put that in the provision. the five -- of the 2350i6 -- the
five private screening under the operations that we set up, san francisco was private. has been union from the beginning long before you guys -- the rest of the crowd got that. so it's not a question of union representation and i don't think people should fear public versus private. even the tsa folks. i know some of them fear that, but it involve some competition. i heard you all speak to that and mr. lynch isn't here, but again, we need to protect that right. we exempted them from title v. some can get fired because that's the way we set it up. it sounds like some of the wrong people are getting removed and the money is going to the wrong folks. in the private screening they have actually increased some of the compensations for the tso to retain better people and be more flexibility in scheduling and things like that that can be
adapted. that's one reason i favored that model under federal supervision. what you described today is very scary. i cited a history of what's been going on with the delays. but for you to come here, you said mr. rhoades, mr. livingston, mr. brainard, there was no plan "b" and this we expect a meltdown this summer. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> yeah. >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> mr. rhoades? >> if i ask say something with that -- >> go ahead. >> you know, federal security directors are working with their staff, are working with the airport, are working with the airlines. we have faced tougher challenges in our history standing up as you well know as one of the founders of the agency. i'm confident we'll be able to find workable solutions as long as we keep partnerships with our stakeholders. >> you have a lot of good workers out there who should be rewarded. we need a bert way of rewarding -- we need a better way of rewarding and retaining
the good tso workers. get rid of some of the bureaucrats at the top who are causing most of the problems and they -- i guess over the years they have felt threatened. particularly by me because i keep saying, my goodness, we have a huge bureaucracy. many of them just a few miles from here. and they -- they're very domineering over the bureaucracy and anyone who gets in their way. i dealt with them in privatizing one of my airports. it was -- i always left that option own to one of the local -- option into one of the local airports that requested to opt out and they came down and he said he was never so intimidated. so threatened. it took two years to just get us to -- to get consideration of the opt out. then i had to change the law to where they must accept the application rather than when we
set it up. it was left permissive with the language shell. so that's the reason that we got into that situation. but then it took two years more while they thwarted our congress' intent. and again, we have 450 airports. we need different models. alaska is different from wyoming is different from jfk, et cetera. and the flexibility to can that with the right balance of public/private operations and full -- but i would never take the federal government out. and again, the people -- there are a lot of junior members here. nobody understands the significance of what you confirm today on this intel and analysis situation. because that is the only thing i think that will save us. maybe you have a different opinion. >> sir, i want to go on the
record saying while you don't have intel leadership you have some top quality intel professionals working in that office. >> yes. >> the advanced analytic part that i brought in is still functioning very effectively. i think mr. nevinger is going going to tell you he's getting the right leadership. >> well, i put the resources there. the bdos have been -- we have suggested it as it worked out well, as you know. then again -- the other thing too you have the lines that extend out from the airports. we saw what happened in brussels. it was an attack on the american airlines and the passengers. their intent was to kill as many as they can. you cited the attack in los angeles. so they're looking for the easiest targets, tsa provides a layer of protection once they get past that. then we've got secure cockpit
doors. we've got air marshals. we've got pilots who are armed. the biggest thing we have and they have always come to the rescue since that hour of 9/11 when the passengers on flight 93 found out what was going on. the passengers will beat the living hell out of anyone who poses a true risk. so -- they have saved the day. and also the airline staff i have to give them credit. they have been there too. so again, my concern we built this huge bureaucracy. we have the bureaucrats in charge. they have their revengeful way of controlling the agency which it shouldn't be. so i'm glad to hear the confidence everyone has in nevinger. i'm not happy to hear that's no plan "b." that is essential. we've got to make certain -- i mean, we cast a lot of
responsibility for the ffds in making it work and they're going to catch holy heck when the lines continue to back up. but some common sense things. the precheck, advancing that. i have gone to national. i will say it's improved because i have flothrown a couple of fi. there's more people in precheck and nobody accommodates them. i saw the dogs the other day. i think we need to move a few dogs to the front doorway like the israelis do. they're checking people as they come in before they can get to the line to take out the people like they did in brussels. just some suggestions again that -- the common sense that i hope you all can take back. i know you have tried to make positive suggestions and been -- and also i don't think any of
you did it to be mean or vengeful to anybody above but you have the best interest of the public and those who work for us. so not as many questions as comments. very helpful hearing. we'll have the administrator in in a couple of weeks here. any last remarks? >> one of the things we talked about and i guess this committee has certainly some level of influence. when you talk about our workforce and the wonderful people that come to work every day, if i can pose it like this. imagine if every year you had to run for re-election. i mean, you -- >> i do it every two. >> well, imagine doing it every year. >> my contract expires every 24 months. >> with our people it expires every year and they have the
recertify for their job. one of the things i hope to do better with our people is find another option. our people get incredibly stressed out every year. they do a stressful job very well. what you don't hear about in the media are the success stories that happen every day. the amount of dangerous items they prevent from getting on the aircraft. i know our people could find other opportunities. we're grateful that we have the wonderful team that we do. but if there's a way to take the stress off the workforce we'd appreciate it. >> well, again, it starts from up here. and you all -- the fsd's work at certain constraints from what -- it flows downhill. mr. livingston? >> sir, we have brought up some serious issues here today. some were new. some were reported back in the original summary that went to you in october of 2009. if we can agree some need to be addressed now, this is a prime
opportunity to advance the operational success of tsa. none of the things said today here were personal or -- >> no. no. you're speaking in the bettern't of -- betterment of tsa. >> and the last two points, sir, is if we could take a look at how the erc or the executive resource council appoints these sess at tsa that might be a way for you to exert your most control over tsa because that's where the pay, the assignments, the selections, reassignment. that's the nucleus for everything. i'm just not sure that it isn't effective in the best interest. because i have heard you speak several times, both here and on the committees and the administrator and several things you have said over and over, but i haven't seen the actual
actions that you have -- >> you can't imagine my frustration. and sometimes they have ignored me. they have tried to do everything they can to divert -- >> yes, sir. but i think if you exerted control -- >> well, i think you -- again, you saw sort of the bipartisan support. again, i have never since we created the tsa never seen anyone come forward. most people have been afraid to come forward. i remember we offered some people -- they even put bags over their heads. like we have done in the past with some witnesses, to come in and testify. but you all are very brave. you have stood up to it and i think you'd do it again because you're trying not to be mean towards anyone or vindictive towards anyone, but to better the operations which you see. mr. rhoades, you wanted to conclude? >> yes, sir. i want to thank you for the opportunity to speak before the committee. it's very important to me. i hope i have communicated
issues along with resolutions after reflective thought and i'm very humbled to be asked here. i appreciate the opportunity to be heard. if there's one thing that i wish the committee would have oversight on is the directive reassignments policy. it is absolutely abysmal. and this is not personal. it's professional to me. as a parting suggestion, i would do an audit of all the tsa programs, awards, hiring, external to tsa because you cannot fix a problem unless you diagnose it correctly. and the tsa has a history and has certainly demonstrated that the responsiveness at times has not been there. how ever embarrassing it is. but in order for us to get healthier we have to diagnose the problem and we have to take our medicine. thank you very much, sir. >> i appreciate it again all three of you stepping forward. i think, again, this can be a
coming up this saturday on c-span we'll have live coverage from the white house correspondents' dinner. starts at 6:00 eastern. it's one of the biggest social events each year. the guest list includes major celebrities. remarks by president obama. and this year's featured comedian is the nightly show host larry wilmore. c-span spoke to washington hilton executive chef andre cote about his planning and preparations for the annual event. here's what he had to say. >> well, andre cote is the executive chef here at the washington hilton. chef andre, you have 2,600 plus people coming over for dinner. what is it like to prepare for that? >> organized chaos at its finest. it really is. it's an honor first and foremost but it's also a lot of fun. it's an opportunity for us to really prepare unusual foods.
for a large amount of people. >> when you say unusual, what do you mean? >> well, we can't go over this year's menu. but once we do a taste test with the white house correspondents' dinner, the decision usually is made that evening. then our work begins for the following year. >> and when do you do the taste tests? at what point during the year? >> it's usually three months -- roughly three months prior to the function itself. it depends on their schedule and our schedule. but we always work it out. >> chef andre, you have 23,000 square feet of kitchen here at the washington hilton. the largest in washington, d.c. largest kitchen in d.c. >> right. >> does it get crowded on the night of the correspondents' dinner? >> it gets very crowded. >> who's in here?
>> well, we have a lot of celebrities that walk through the back of the house. but at the same time, we've got so many cooks and people working that evening. whether it be from the management team or all the team members. you're looking at roughly 400 people that are here to assist on that evening. >> does that include servers? >> that includes servers. >> how many people out on the floor? >> you have about 200 servers on the floor. and then you've got maitre d', et cetera, that oversee a certain amount of tables. >> another 200 people back here -- >> about that. about that. and it's actually organized chaos at its finest. >> where are you that evening? >> running around. we were just talking about how many steps i do and the white house correspondents' dinner is definitely the most. 24,000 steps that day. because i'm all over the place. whether it be in the pastry
shop, meat shop. on the hot side, making hors d'oeuvres, making sure the secret service are okay. working on a backwards time line to feed that many people. how much time do need for the steaks to go in and actually cook. so there's a lot that goes into it. >> well, there's a lot of high profile people that come to the hilton on a regular basis. so you're probably used to that part. but where do you source your food? is that a secret? are the secret service involved in your preparations? >> as far as the food goes, we have primary purveyors that we source most of the food through.
and that -- as soon as the tasting is over, i actually sit down and that's when the ordering of the food takes place. so it took place three months ago. because we wanted to make sure there's the correct aging on the beef for the dinner that night. it comes anywhere from california, the meat usually from colorado or idaho somewhere in that area. vegetables, again, florida, california, the majority of it. there's a lot that goes into it though. >> what about the secret service? are they participating or keeping an eye on everything that night? >> they do. the thing with secret service s is, they kind of take our lead. but at the same time, we take their lead. meaning that we know our employees, who should be here, who should not be here. so as far as, you know, working together, we really work well together.
as far as overseeing the production of the food, they will walk around, inspect things, check on products, et cetera. but when it comes time to actually serve them the dinner, the president's dinner is usually picked out of the 2,700 that we have produced that night. >> so he's eating the same food? it's a random -- >> correct. they randomly select from the starter, desserts, as well as the entree. >> now, how far are we from the actual ballroom right now? >> right now, you're probably about 40 yards from the ballroom. >> so are the servers taking the food from this area or from this kitchen, bringing it out into the ballroom? >> yeah. well, the kitchen actually backs up to the ballroom. so it's only about ten yards away from the entrance to the
ballroom. which makes it convenient, but also efficient. >> chef andre, your employees here, to work at the washington hilton because of the high profile events that go on here, do they have to be especially checked -- background checks? >> i honestly couldn't answer that question. however, i do know that everybody that walks in to the kitchen once we turn it over to secret service, everybody is checked. once going through the secret service line. >> what about special orders? a lot of people have food allergies, et cetera. gluten free. >> in my 11 years here, or my 12th -- this is actually my 12th dinner, we have had a lot of special requests. and it's challenging that night because you're trying to take
care of so many people. and when somebody comes across and says, oh, i only eat things that are dark shade. okay, right now, my brain is not working. what's a dark shade? what do you mean by that? i have somebody else that needs their food pureed. i have got a special vegan diet. i would say there's probably 100 to 150 special requests that evening. it presents a challenge, but we do the best we can. >> what if you're one of the getzs in the december -- one of the guests here, you want a grilled cheese and a bowl of soup, will you get it that night? >> they will. we'll have room service appropriately staffed. we'll have six cooks up there and three pantry persons up there.
working and room service will probably have about a staff of probably 15 that evening. so whether it's room service or a la carte or, you know, the people that like to watch, you know, if they're in mcclellan's bar they'll be able to order bar food. >> there's all done in a separate kitchen? >> yes. which is up one floor. it's right off the lobby. there's tdl restaurant and mcclellan's bar. >> chef andre, in the 12 years you have been doing this dinner, has anything ever gone wrong or awry that you can tell us about? >> we have actually had a lot go wrong. you know, part of my job and my assistants' job is to kind of look into the future of what possibilities are there for something to go wrong. so we actually take the menu and we think backwards. okay, what happens if we break
50 plates? what happens if we forget to light a hot box? so we kind of back track through the whole menu to make sure that we try and minimize those. now, we have had things like -- all of a sudden, an oven got tired. >> got tired? >> yeah. it's a nice way of putting it. and where, you know, we put a french onion soup in the oven and all of a sudden the oven wasn't working. that's when you have to use the resources in the kitchens -- all the kitchens to be able to produce the food. so what we did was we used the pastry ovens. we took some up to the restaurant kitchen so we were able to minimize any exposure. >> having attended this dinner, it's very crowded in that
ballroom and it is tight spaces. what's the advice that you give to the servers to get through? >> be patient. that's the biggest thing. and, you know, from my standpoint, i don't see what goes on once they enter the ballroom. because i'm so busy back here. we'll keep working until 11:00 at night, 12:00 at night, whether it's up in the restaurant or room service orders or there's after parties that go on. so from a kitchen standpoint we're not closing down. we're going to -- i'll be here by 5:00 in the morning that morning. only because the anxiety is setting in. i start going through my checklists, you know, double-checking everything i have done up to that point to make sure i'm ready. it's a long day but at the same time it's a lot of fun. so getting back to your original question with the servers, that day we'll feed roughly 1,500 employees in our cafeteria also.
so although a lot of people only see the white house correspondents' dinner, you've got all the people that have been here all day. housekeepers working hard to turn the rooms over. the bellmen, the doormen. all the people working in the restaurant because the restaurant will do probably 3,000 people that day. so if you take all of that, there's a lot more that goes into it than just the white house correspondents' dinner. it's actually planning for the cafeteria. how could we expedite service, how could we make sure we're able to feed all those employees that are working the white house correspondents' dinner. >> 12 years. that means george w. bush and barack obama have been your two presidents. have you had the chance to meet either one of them? >> no, unfortunately. i hope one day i get a picture with one of the presidents. i think that would be nice.
so, no, i don't get to meet them. i have seen mrs. obama walk through the kitchen quickly a couple of times. >> on her way to this event or to other events? >> to other events, but that's it. >> what's your biggest worry? >> failure. >> of what kind of failure? >> just anything. that i didn't think of something that could go wrong and does go wrong. you know, when you're feeding -- again it is a high profile group, but every group here i would say half of them are high profile. so from a chef's standpoint, you're concerned from, you know, last week, two weeks ago, the groups coming in. maybe i get a little less sleep with the white house correspondents' dinner, but, you know, i don't stress over it. you didn't know i was 90, so --
i just walk through the process, every process, every step that we do that day, go it over 20 or 30 times in my head prior to the function even happening. that way i'm ready. >> in the creative process when you say okay, for the taste test let's try this, do you -- does this get to stretch your wings as a chef? do you get to play a little bit in coming up with the menu? >> it's funny you say that, because i think the first five years i did it it was kind of mechanical. so to speak. as a chef i didn't -- you know, push myself to be more creative. and i think this year, i think people will be very pleased or more pleased maybe than they have been in the past with the creativity that we've put forth.
and i'm learning. i'm also learning as a chef. i have been doing this for 40 years and every day i walk in here, i learn something new. not a lot of people can say that. but as a chef, you take what you learn every day and you push yourself to try something new every day. and then the next day okay, we're going to try for 400. okay, we're going to try something different for 1,200 people. and then you get up to the 2,700 people or the 2,000 people and you're trying to be unique and different. that's when, you know, you know as a chef that you're doing your job right. so -- >> this is president obama's last year in office, his last white house correspondents' dinner. anything to mark that occasion? from your perspective. >> from my perspective, it's -- it really is an honor. you know, i'm a military brat.
and for me, you know, i was raised with respecting the position no matter who it was. democrat or republican. and for me it's really an honor to be here, to be part of the white house correspondents' dinner. to be known as the chef that, you know, helped produce this meal. it truly is. >> now, chef andre, your client is not the white house necessarily in this case. your client is the white house correspondents' association. >> correct. shame on me for referring to the president, but you know, i guess i get a little -- you know, excited that he's here. but the white house correspondents' dinner is, you know, it's -- they're nice people that are on the committee. they want to do the best for the group, for the organization. and my job is to make their job
a little bit easier. so as a chef, even when i do the menus, what can i do, how can i do it? you know, to make their decision making process a little bit easier. >> this dinner is being held on april 30th, 2016. when will planning for 2017 begin? >> the day after. in all sincerity. what we do as a hotel, we discuss what went well, what didn't go well. what we need to do -- we didn't have somebody stationed in the certain area of the hotel to direct people. or did i not staff enough people in the restaurant kitchen for the business we had for room service or the bar or the restaurant? so we go over everything the day after. and then the day after that, we
actually start planning for '17's dinner. so it's nonstop. >> andre cote is the executive chef here at the washington hilton. >> and a reminder you can see this year's white house correspondents' dinner starting at 6:00 p.m. on our companion network, c-span. independent media is the oxygen of a democracy. it's essential. holding those in power accountable. you know, we're not there to serve some kind of corporate agenda. when we cover war and peace we're not brought to you by the weapons manufacturers. >> journalist amy goodman host of the daily news program democracy now talks about the book she's co-authored "democracy now, 20 years covering the movements changing
america." which looks back at some of the stories and people the show's covered. >> the idea of democracy now starting 20 years ago, its really hasn't changed. bringing out the voices of people at the grass roots and the united states and around the world. they very much represent i think the majority of people. i mean, i think people who are concerned deeply about war and peace, about the growing inequality in this country, about climate change, the fate of a planet, are not a fringe minority. not even a silent majority, but the silenced majority silenced by the corporate media which is why we have to take it back. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. the federal communications commission voted to move forward with proposed rules for internet service providers who have access to personal and private information of their broadband
customers. the rules would require isps to ask consumers to opt into sharing of their data with third parties. private rights analysts gave differing rules for consumers and businesses during this forum on capitol hill. this was hosted by the congressional internet caucus advisory committee. >> all right. folks, welcome to another congressional internet caucus advisory committee briefing. thanks for coming. we'll try to do this quickly in one hour. discuss this from the pro and con perspective. the briefing in case you're in the wrong place, it's the new fcc privacy rules for broadband provider, what will they mean by privacy? this is hosted by the internet caucus advisory committee. and it's chaired on the house side by congressman good lat and
anna ashoe. so we are super supportive, appreciative of their support and the fact they allow us to host these in a fair and balanced way with them. and their ability to say, we don't care -- we don't care where our particular perspectives are, but we want a good debate, pros and cons on these issues and let, you know, congressional staff decide where they come out on the issue. so before i get going, just a few little bits of housekeeping. if you want to follow the conversation on twitter, the hash tag for today, #fcc privacy. and you can follow us at @netcaucus ac. that's on your list here. we don't have any upcoming events, but we'll notice one in a week or two. so the next one is on the transition for the department of commerce and internet governance. keep on the lookout for that.
let me introduce, we have pros and cons on the particular issue. let me just introduce quickly my panel. right to the left here is jim halpert. he's with dal piper. which is a law firm here in town. he's a partner there. next to him is debbie matties. she is vice president of privacy at ctia which is a collection of wireless and cellular phone companies. next to her is kraterina kopp. and next to her is laura moy from georgetown law school. all their twitter handles are on the page. so why are we here today? yesterday, the federal communications commission and the federal communications commission proposed a rule governing privacy issues related to broadband services. and covering broadband service providers. they are basically updating a
law from 1996 which incidentally is the same year that the congressional internet caucus was created. so 20 years ago, the telecommunications act of 1996 act was passed which governed the telephone service and the congressional internet caucus was created that year. understand d incidentally the top song on the billboard was the "macerena." i don't remember what phone i had, but it was different. so this is really interesting collision of old and new and what are we here for. so the fcc had a notice of proposed rule making. they want to do a rule to update the rules for the providers. then we'll explain that and debate the pros and cons. so we'll go through a lot of material very quickly.
the rules governing privacy for broadband service providers they include folks that provide your cellular service. not the phone itself. but the service that i get here which is t-mobile. your -- over your laptop or desktop. at home it's verizon fios. and broadband service providers are what we're talking about and the rules are covering them. let's go to the first question and jim arrived just in time for the people out there who, you know, the gnawing question is like that name sounds really familiar. jim halpert, where do i know that from? you're probably googling jim halpert and the first thing that comes up is that guy from "the office." so we get that out of the way, so you're not bugged all throughout the meeting, he's the inspiration for jim halpert from "the office." >> that's right. you'll find that much less exciting than the actor.
for what it's worth, i had dinner with the real andy bernard, another childhood friend who was in town for a world bank economic conference. but let's talk about how this arose first. the fcc has been trying to find a way to impose net neutrality requirements on internet access providers. after a couple of attempts it decided to classify them as common carriers. and just by virtue of providing broadband service. when the -- when the original cpin law was passed they were considered independent internet information services and were not regulated at all by the fcc. this new classification through a quirk in the way that the federal trade commission law works are outside the authority
of the federal trade commission. so before this net neutrality order, internet access providers were regulated in the same requirements as anyone else in the ecosystem or the business. it's the fcc changing the way that the service is classified for purposes of telecon, then all of a sudden we have a change of authority over internet access -- >> so this is the aka, net neutrality? >> correct. >> so it's including a notice, like telling people consumers what their privacy rights are. a choice, whether you can opt in or opt out or keep them from doing that collection. and then security. which is like how -- you know, why are you going to keep my data secure when you collect it? what is the rules specifically looking like and what is the
cpia thing that people are hearing about? >> we don't know about the text, because it's not been released but based on discussions it sounds like what the fcc would do is to require enormously long lists of information to be provided to consumers. by way of notice of what the data practices of the internet access service is. and then set up a multitiered set of permissions, degree of opt in or opt out that would be required for the internet access provider to use information that it had obtained by virtue of providing this service to consumers. so there would be a very unusual opt in consent requirement for any disclosure of information to a third party. we'll talk about that how that may be less unusual. but certainly for internal uses of information for purposes, for
example, of advertising or marketing. that would be sharply restricted. unless requiring an firm opt in consent. unless the marketing was for something that was related to communication service. so an existing service that the consumer required. there would be an opt out for that sort of marketing. so that the default rule would be opt in with an opt out rule in place for marketing, communication services or marketing those services through an after fill ya.. >> do if i can jump -- so if i can jump to laura. so for the average consumer at home what does it mean for them, what does it mean for their privacy? what companies are they interacting that they'll be covered by this rule and kind of what is so unique about broadband service providers that we need such a rule? >> okay. all right. i'll try to take those -- i'll try to get to all of those.
and just give you a little bit of background here. before we start talking about consumers and exactly what this means to them, i think it's worth talking about the objective is with respect to consumers of the law in the first place. so you know, i think this is something that we could probably discuss at length i'm sure there would be differences among us panelists over what the primary goals of the statute are here. but basically, the section of the communications act that governs common carrier privacy, the privacy obligations which were phone providers now include broad band providers. it had two goals. one was to protect the privacy of information that consumers have to provide to carriers to get service. so that's like, you're talking about common carriers, you're talking about companies that where their primary function is to carry the customer's
communications from one end to the other. and so in that context, if you're making a phone call or browsing the internet or using any online service, you have no choice but to provide certain information with the carrier about the traffic. so with a phone call you have to provide information about the phone number you're calling, the length of time you're talking on the phone. et cetera. and with internet traffic, it's kind of similar. you have to provide information about -- that enables the broad band provider to route the traffic from one place to another. the customer pays the carrier for service. and has to provide information about their communications in order to get that service. and one of the goals of the law is to protect that information. basically to make sure that the information isn't then being used for other purposes other than to direct the traffic or to direct the calls. without the customer's approval. then the other objective is
competition based objective where one of the -- you know, the fcc actually for decades prior to the 1996 telecom act had been regulating customer proprietary network information. you'll be hearing us refer to that as cpni. had been regulating it on a competition basis. there was an idea if you have carriers that are seeing lots of information about relationships that their customers have with other companies, by virtue of the fact their costmeustomers a calling other companies. there would be issues if the carrier could use that information to compete in other markets. a good example is like with a home security. if you're getting a service from one provider if your phone company offers a home security customer it knows who you're a customer of.
it might know when you've had an incident based on your call logs or how often you're contacting customer service with that other home security system, et cetera. that could be information it could use. those are the two goals. so for consumers now, now that broad band has been reclassified as a common carrier service, again, with the routing of communications from one place to another, this means that broad band consumers can expect to have a very similar privacy framework to what has been instituted with respect to phone the information they provide to their phone carriers, they can expect to have similar protections in place with respect to the information they share with their internet providers. so the websites you visit, the services that you're using that you're in contact with, the destination of your traffic and the origin of it the duration and the amount of traffic. that type of information as jim
described will be subject to the sort of like multitiered consent structure. >> so that information is -- would be protected in the isp would not be able to collect it. does this rule apply to sites like google, twitter, snapchat or the apps on my motorola phone? >> good question. that's a good question. i think just to address one part of that, though, these rules are not about collection, they are about use in general. so that -- because there is an assumption that carriers have to collect the information that customers have to provide to carriers and carriers have to collect it in order to provide the service in the first place. that aside, no, these rules don't apply, at least, you know, based on what we know about the proposal again, as jim said we haven't seen the text of the actual proposal yet. based on what we know about it, no, it would not extend to edge
services. you know, so there are companies that provide both edge services and internet carriage. and when they are in the business of providing the broad band access, then they'd be subject to the fcc's rules that protect the information in that context. and when they're in the business of offering an end service. >> okay. so the phone that i have in my hand it wouldn't apply to like, i'm looking at my apps, fitbit app, it wouldn't apply to my google mail, my pandora or even the operating system and this happens to be an android system. the other major operating system you might have heard of it, ios by apple. >> it's been in the news a little bit. >> yeah. >> that's correct. right. it would not apply to those other entities. this is just about broad band internet access service providers. >> you know, canyone want to weigh in on this? what is so special?
what is so special about broad band service providers and is this regime similar or different to other privacy regimes that we have in the united states? now, we had a briefing down the hall last week on the eu/u.s. privacy shield. we had a fellow from the european commission the reason we have to do this band aid is because the u.s. has an inadequate level of privacy protection in your opinion. meaning the european commission's opinion. what's so special about this particular broad band service provider and what do they see that's so special? >> do you want to jump in? >> thank you, yeah, for that question. i think -- you have to look at the whole context of the data. it's not so much that it's iparticularly sensitive data it's the whole context. a customer who uses the internet at home or on the phone there's a lot of data that's being collected. it's sensitive and detailed
information. there's not that many options for a customer to sort of switch the provider or, you know, evade the situation. so it's the amount of information detailed and really the opportunity for the customer to not really go anywhere else. if you think about the whole -- the kind of profile that can be collected about a user, you know, a lot of important inferences can be made about oo user. you can understand, for example, the usage patterns you can draw conclusions about whether there was somebody, for example is unemployed because they suddenly started using their home internet service more frequently during the daytime. the kind of devices that are being connected to the internet, again, in the home setting. for example, a pacemaker or you know your fitbit there's a lot of information that can be gleaned from that. it's the infientire context youe
to look at. the ftc for example looks at the sensitivity of the data and says with regard to health information you should -- it's particularly sensitive, therefore there's an opt in required. i think it's important to not only look at the sensitivity of the data but then that's the next step. also the purpose of the data. i think that is where we talk about the proposed rules, it looks at the entirety of the data and what is it being used for. and i'd be happy to go into that a little bit more. >> we'll come back to the two points about not being able to go to somewhere else. and then also the sensitivity of the data the uniqueness of the data. we can go back to that. can we focus on the mobile ecosystem? that's who your members represent is the mobile and wireless. >> the mobile eco system as you know involves a lot of companies who are providing the service, the isp's. one of the companies that
provides the connectivity. it isn't always the same isp when you're using the phone. when you're at home you connect to the home wi-fi and if you're out taking transportation to work you're on your network connection once you get to work you connect to the work fiwiwi- a throughout the day you're using more than one isp. if you take a look back at the original purpose of the privacy law we're talking about. communications act. you look at the voice services market. you had one phone company in 1996 you made a phone call from your house. they delivered it to someone else. two companies and everyone that was within the phone services market was covered by the law.
here by plying that to internet service providers you're only applying that to a tiny subset. from the isp's perspective and from a consumer's perspective it doesn't make sense there's a lot of confusion that will ensue if you have one set of rules for isp's and other companies who are handling the exact same data in some cases even more data because if you think about using your phone and you're bouncing around from one isp to another throughout the day you might be logged into services throughout the day consistently no matter which isp you're using. e-mail provider, social network you may be logged in that entire time. that social network or search engine would be able to see your activity throughout the day or any isp would see a fraction of that. >> catherine is saying the sensitivity of the data and it's unique you're saying well the data that the isp would collect isn't all that different from